WBEZ | Jobs in a blue economy http://www.wbez.org/tags/jobs-blue-economy Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Community college partners with private business to fill jobs http://www.wbez.org/content/community-college-partners-private-business-fill-jobs-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-29/Photo_MichiganPubPrivate_JocelynFrank.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As the Great Lakes region continues to face high rates of unemployment, many manufacturing workers find themselves laid off and lacking credentials to find new work. State-funded agencies are teaming up with community colleges and private businesses to help get workers back into jobs. The strategy is called public-private partnership and has support from several governors in the region and even President Obama.</p><p>In Marshall, Mich., Deidre Hosek is a big fan of the approach. It threw her a lifeline when she was laid off in 2007.</p><p><strong>Meet Deidre Hosek</strong><br><br>Hosek is a regular at the Riverside bar, just a few blocks off the main street of Marshall. It’s an easy to miss location. The smoky gray wooden façade has no outward facing windows, but step inside and two TVs and a jukebox light up the room. Hosek sits alongside six others sipping Miller Lite. She’s about 5'5" with long brown hair, solid confidence, and a bold, raspy laugh.<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-29/Photo_MichiganPubPrivate_JocelynFrank.JPG" style="width: 275px; height: 206px; margin: 2px 10px; float: left;" title="Using her training from the local community college, Diedra Hosek works at Tenneco Automotive as a welder. (Photo courtesy of Calhoun Michigan Works)"></p><p>This is her place to unwind. She remembers growing up in Marshall with big ideas about what it would mean to be an adult and work a regular job.</p><p>“I remember when I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, a singing star,” Hosek said, adding that at Riverside bar she gets to be a singer now and then, “that’s why I try and come down here. One of my neighborhood buddies runs the open mic.”</p><p>Hosek raised two kids in Marshall and, like many of her neighbors and friends, she worked for the auto industry. In her case, it was as a prototype technician working with vinyl, plastics, and leathers at the Lear Corporation. It was a solid living wage but when times got tough the company downsized and moved operations out of state, Hosek was left in a lurch.</p><p>“If I wanted to move out of state, I could have gone to another Lear plant,” she said. “But all of my family is here, and I have no desire to leave my family."</p><p><strong>Living unemployed</strong></p><p>Instead of leaving, Hosek and her family lived off her 401(k) for two years. Eventually, she found a gig working overnight at the Shell gas station convenience store. A customer there tipped her off that the state-funded agency Michigan Works was interviewing candidates for factory work in town. She raced over to apply.</p><p><strong>Never welded before</strong></p><p>Fast-forward four years and Deidre Hosek is a welder at Tenneco, an international auto-parts manufacturer. In Marshall, they make mufflers. The first thing she needed to learn was how to fuse two pieces of metal together to make a bead.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-28/great-lakes-workers-faring-better-canadian-side-border-94389">Workers faring better in Canada</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/using-sound-find-leaks-and-save-dollars-94303">Using sound to find leaks and save dollars</a></strong></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><div>“I’d never run a bead before in my life,” Hosek said, laughing. “The closest I’d come to running a bead was a caulk around my sink."<br><p>Even with her lack of experience, Michigan Works was confident she could succeed. Hosek became one of thousands of people in Michigan to benefit from public-private programs to help the workers find jobs locally.</p><p><strong>How it works, the private side</strong></p><p>A company like Tenneco needs highly skilled welders. The plant manager at Tenneco in Marshall, Randy Rial, says it’s not that easy to find them.</p><p>“Many people can weld but when the people come in here and say I can weld anything, but this is different. We work very fast at very high heat,” &nbsp;Rial explained. “They come in here and it’s very difficult to learn.”</p><p>In 2007 the company started welding with a new, very thin, very expensive metal. Their welders failed, over and over. It cost the company a lot of money. Rial remembers that was a time when many other factories were closing their doors.</p><p>“Eaton closed down, Lear closed down, a lot of other plants closed down,” Rial remembered.&nbsp; “We have to do everything we can do to be competitive in the global market.”</p><p><strong>How it works, the public side</strong></p><p>Training specialized welders is difficult and expensive so the public side of the partnership plays a big role. George Bauer is a representative of the state-funded Michigan Works Association. He's been on the front lines of the recession.</p><p>“Michigan was in it before everyone else and we’re hoping we won't be the last to come out of it,” Bauer said.</p><p>Bauer’s witnessed the bloodletting-- with 40, 50, 100 local workers laid-off at one time. He talks to workers to prepare them for inevitably hard times ahead, but if he can, Bauer prefers to step in before a company downsizes or leaves town. When Bauer learned about the challenges at Tenneco, he called a meeting right away and made the company an offer.</p><p>“Our deal with the company was that if we’re paying for the training, you’ll guarantee to hire them at the end,” Bauer said.</p><p>Tenneco agreed to hire new welders. To do the actual training, Michigan Works tapped Kellogg Community College in the nearby town of Battle Creek.</p><p><strong>The flexibility of community colleges</strong></p><p>Dennis Bona is the president of Kellogg Community College. He’s learned the key to the succeeding with the business world is flexibility.</p><p>“We tailor instruction to fit what employer needs. We know there are no careers we train once for,” Bona explained. “Tenneco came to us and said we need 60 welders trained and we need them soon.”</p><p>So Bona and Kellogg Community College worked with Tenneco to design and supply a quick 8-week program with something called open-exit, open-entry. That meant students didn’t have to wait for a new semester for classes to begin. And that responsiveness meant Tenneco saved money.</p><p>In the end Tenneco hired over 60 welders, and the relationship between the college and the company continued. Bona said Kellogg has trained and educated about 1000 Tenneco employees. They work with 150 other companies across southern Michigan.</p><p><strong>Deidre Hosek turns into a welder</strong></p><p>The partnership between Michigan Works, Kellogg, and Tenneco gave the company some additional support to stay in town and hire in town. In 2007, that was a godsend for Deidre Hosek. She was struggling to find well-paid work.</p><p>“There was nothing," Hosek said. "I didn’t think finding a job would be that difficult.”</p><p>She didn’t have a college degree or other technical training to lean on, but with the public-private education plan in place she was able to jump right in and start something completely new.</p><p>&nbsp;“I had no idea I would go back to school, but it was just boom boom boom,” she said of the training. “We had the classroom time and the actual hands-on welding time...that was fun.”</p><p><strong>Staying in the community</strong></p><p>With a steady paycheck now in her pocket, Deidre Hosek can afford to stop by Riverside for open-mic night and unwind with her longtime friends.</p><p>“I like being where everybody knows your name," she said. "You’re not just a number.”</p><p>Eight-weeks (the length of her training course) and four years later, Hosek is proud to be a welder. But at the Riverside bar, standing in the spotlight with her neighborhood buddies cheering her on, belting out Marshall Tucker lyrics during the open-mic night, sometimes she still feels a little like a singing star.</p></div><p><em>A correction has been made to this story. An earlier version misspelled the Lear Corporation.</em></p></p> Wed, 30 Nov 2011 13:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/community-college-partners-private-business-fill-jobs-0 Food tourism sparks regional businesses http://www.wbez.org/content/food-tourism-sparks-regional-businesses-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-15/Farmers Market_Flickr_NatalieMaynor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Until recently nobody expected farms to create a lot of new jobs, but nationwide the food business is experiencing something like a renaissance. In some parts of the Great Lakes, food is becoming a main attraction for tourists and food-focused tourism is creating jobs for farmers, cooks and food purveyors.</p><p>This summer Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was voted the most beautiful place in the U.S. by the audience of <em>Good Morning America</em>. A man from Grand Rapids nominated the Dunes along the northeast coast of Lake Michigan. He said the scenery makes you realize the universe is a “majestic mystery.” But when ABC shot the piece they didn’t interview a poet or a painter from the area. They talked to Chef Mario Batali and showed him doing something less than mysterious--eating pizza. The celebrity chef said that in addition to the beauty and the water he likes the region because of the farmers and “great food artisans.”</p><p>Around the time ABC was scoping out Sleeping Bear Dunes, Batali was <a href="http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2011/07/mario-batali-travel-michigan.html?NRDONE=1">blogging</a> at bonappetit.com about how the food scene in this part of Michigan had exploded. In one TV shot he’s sitting in the café at a local winery. Wineries are the darlings of the region’s food scene. They’ve doubled in number during the last ten years. They’re an attraction year round, but especially on fall weekends and wineries claim to draw a million visits a year statewide.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/injection-tourism-gives-michigan-boost-94021"><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);"><strong>TOURISM: </strong></span><strong>'Pure Michigan' gives state a boost</strong></a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/imadeajob"><strong><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">INTERACT: </span>Made a job? Tell us about it.</strong></a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind-93875"><strong>Gas drilling could take air out of offshore wind</strong></a></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>A decade ago there were few tourists like Alicia and Don English who visited Northern Michigan mainly for food and wine. Their home is a three-and-a-half hour drive south where they say they have few dining options beyond chain restaurants.</p><p>“You can come up here and have different food different nights and not have it all be the same,” says English.</p><p>The restaurant business in downtown Traverse City has grown 20 to 25 percent over the last five years. That helped the tourism business in this region grew by about five percent or more during the last year.</p><p>More and more restaurants here buy food from local farms and then promote those farms by name on their menus. That’s helped the number of farms and food purveyors increase. In 2002 there were 70 vendors at the market in Traverse City, the largest farm market in northern Michigan. This year that number climbed above 120. Meanwhile another 15 farmers markets started up across the region in the last five years.</p><p>The customers are mainly year-round and seasonal residents. But there are now enough businesses in the area buying local food that the region has its own food distributor. Cherry Capital Foods employs 12 people full time. They ship food mainly within 100 miles of Traverse City. Almost half of their deliveries are to restaurants.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-14/Mangalitsa_resized.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 206px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;" title="Mangalitsa pigs, bred originally for fat to make lard, are rare and considered a delicacy at finer restaurants. (Front and Center/Peter Payette)">This business model is highly unusual in the United States. Food is usually shipped in massive volumes from all corners of the globe. The owner of <a href="http://cherrycapitalfoodsllc.blogspot.com/">Cherry Capital Foods</a>, Chip Hoagland, takes little credit for the success of this five-year old business. The wind of the local food movement is at their backs.</p><p>“Something lit the spark and I’m not sure what that is but it’s happening” says Hoagland.&nbsp;</p><p>Within 100 miles of Traverse City is a growing crowd of entrepreneurial farmers from a variety of backgrounds. Some are young organic farmers. Others are long-time fruit growers diversifying into new markets, like wine grapes.</p><p>Mark Baker established <a href="http://www.bakersgreenacres.com">Bakers Green Acres</a> in Marion, Michigan after a career in the Air Force. Poultry is his main product but a few years ago he got into an unusual breed of pig called Mangalitsa. Recently he purchased a wagyu bull from a ranch in Indiana. Wagyu beef comes from animals bred in Japan for high amounts of unsaturated fat that is finely marbled through the meat so it melts in your mouth.</p><p>Mark Baker thinks these are the next steps for northern Michigan. He figures if Mario Batali tells the world that there are great restaurants along the shore of northern Lake Michigan, those restaurants need to be ready.</p><p>“We’re going to be bringing people in here that have experienced palates,” says Baker. “We as farmers have to be ready to supply our restaurants with those products. So it presents a great opportunity for farmers.”</p><p>Whether these kinds of opportunities can create enough jobs to actually register a jolt to Michigan’s depressed economy is open for discussion. Even this rural part of the state lost thousands of manufacturing jobs in the past decade. But many new farms and food businesses employ just the owners. Job numbers are hard to find since they don’t fall neatly into one category but are spread across farming, food service and retail.</p><p>Generally this kind of food economy is not something that has attracted the attention of economic development officials. But recently the Michigan Economic Development Corporation gave $50,000 to a group in Traverse City that wants to build an incubator for food businesses. It’s just seed money to study the concept of offering access to commercial kitchen space and storage. But it’s a sign there’s new hope for work that not too long ago was considered drudgery to be escaped.</p></p> Tue, 15 Nov 2011 13:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/food-tourism-sparks-regional-businesses-0